When using either of these terms, completely out of habit in front of our athletes, I am faced with blank expressions. I then find myself automatically defining the two. But why does it matter in the world of strength and conditioning?
In this short blog, I’ll outline the difference between the two types of data and I’ll put forward a few examples that will hopefully enable any reader to remember these when using them in the future.
Qualitative research gathers information that is not in numerical form. It is primarily exploratory research. It is used to gain an understanding of underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations.
For example, diary accounts, open-ended questionnaires, unstructured interviews and unstructured observations. It provides insights into the problem or helps to develop ideas or hypotheses for potential Quantitative research.
Qualitative data is typically descriptive data and as such is harder to analyse than Quantitative data.
Some common methods include focus groups, individual interviews, and participation or observations. The sample size is typically small, and respondents are selected to fulfil a given quota.
By getting your athlete(s) to complete on-going Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) questionnaires you will be given qualitative results that may show factors relating to perceptions of ability, interpretation of session intensities, session outcomes and the focus of their concentration.
Quantitative research is used to quantify the problem by way of generating numerical data or data that can be transformed into usable statistics. It is used to quantify attitudes, opinions, behaviours, and other defined variables – and generalize results from a larger sample population.
Quantitative research uses measurable data to formulate facts and uncover patterns in research. Quantitative data collection methods are much more structured than Qualitative data collection methods.
Quantitative data is information about quantities. This is information that can be measured and written down with numbers. Quantitative data is any data that is in numerical form such as statistics, percentages, etc.
Quantitative data collection methods include various forms of surveys, face-to-face interviews and statistical tests, which are then used for analysis.
Putting your athlete(s) through their performance tests and recording their data. Such tests would include a variety of Olympic lifts, Functional Threshold Power (FTP) and/or Speed tests.
If you are gaining feedback in text form or you gather information from small focus groups, it is generally considered to be Qualitative data. If you are looking at results in statistical form, it is considered Quantitative data. They both have their place in a strength and conditioning coach's practice depending on what you are trying to uncover or identify.
I hope my short blog has helped you in understand and defining between the two types of data/research. You're probably already self-analysing, right? If you have any examples that aren’t quite clear, write them in the comments below or message me for feedback. I'd love to help out!